Ex-PM: Height of insensitivity

Social Welfare recipients wait for their turn to enter the Westpac Bank in Nausori on Wednesday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry says he is “appalled” that scores of senior citizens dependent on Government’s welfare payments for survival were forced to return home without any money after waiting for three days at banks.

“This is the height of insensitivity,” the former prime minister said.

“It is unacceptable that our elderly citizens should have to wait all day at banks, three days running, to access their payments, only to leave empty-handed.

“More so when our very well-paid ministers, MPs and civil servants receive their pays on time.

“Why penalise the poor?”

Mr Chaudhry said if Government did not have the money to make the monthly payments, it should have put out messages via radio and newspapers, advising recipients of the delay and advising them not to visit the banks until further notice.

“It would have been the honourable thing to do instead of forcing these elderly citizens to travel long distances only to find no money in their bank accounts.

“These are people with no other source of income who were forced to travel, mostly it seems from rural areas, to pick up their money.”

Mr Chaudhry said if the payouts were due on Saturday August 1, the elderly should have been paid on Friday “in line with civil service practice”.

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